I first went to Ladakh in 1976, at the request of Taktsang Rinpoche, to take care of Hemis Monastery and its branches in his absence. Rinpoche went to Tibet and was not able to leave Tibet due to the political situation. So for now I am helping in whatever way I can to help Hemis and its branch monasteries, by going to Ladakh at least once in a year to give teachings and some encouragement to the local monasteries and the people of Ladakh.
Hemis Monastery has an annual festival named after the monastery - Hemis Festival - which attracts so many tourists that Ladakh has benefited quite substantially from the income deriving from tourism. Thanks to Gyalsey Rinpoche. Gyalsey Rinpoche, who succeeded the second Taktsang Repa (the reincarnation of the founder of Hemis Monastery) as the spiritual leader of Hemis, was the grandson of the great Ladakhi Dharma King, Sengye Namgyal. It was under Gyalsey Rinpoche's supervision that Hemis flourished. After his return from spiritual training in Tibet, Gyalsey Rinpoche introduced the present Hemis Festival. Ever since, the festival has become a local traditional celebration of the victory of good over evil.
Hemis Festival is normally held on the tenth and eleventh day of the fifth Tibetan month. In Ladakh, these two days are designated by the local government as public holidays, as the Hemis Festival is not only a celebration of Guru Padmasambhava's victorious activities over negative forces, but also an important event reminding the local people of their heritage.